Twilight Q is an old OVA from the late 80s. It has two parts, each one from a different studio. The first being from Ajia-do, the same studio we have to thank for Shuumatsu no Izetta. The second part was brought to us by Studio Deen, the studio behind Gravitation, The law of Ueki & Kore wa Zombie desu ka. I’m sure they’re ashamed over that last one so let’s not hold it against them. Let’s look at this 1987 work and see how each studio did.
Twilight Q follows the format of a sci-fi anthology show like the Twilight Zone or Outer Limits. Which is probably where it gets the name from. Each episode focuses on a different strange scenario. In the Ajia-do episode, we follow a young girl, Mayumi, who happens across a camera that’s probably been underwater and corroded for a long time. When she has her friend’s brother investigate he comes across something strange. The camera model hasn’t been released yet. The Deen episode opens with a plane turning into a fish. We cut to a grotesque fat man and his young daughter eating noodles. The two scenes are tied together when she looks at a plane flying overhead and shouts the word “fish” at it. But what does it mean?
There are two major issues with this OVA in the context of one of those anthology shows. The first is that the characters we follow don’t have much reaction to the strange circumstances they find themselves in. In our first part, Mayumi fatalistically accepts that time travel is a thing and she’s getting a glimpse of the future without it seeming to bother her in the slightest. In the second we follow a nameless private investigator who learns the truth and, with it, the fate in store for him and he pretty much just grins and goes “well, that’s my life now.” You can’t really have stakes or tension when the characters themselves don’t give a shit. You get those things in an anthology when the focus character(s) fight(s) against his/her/their situation. That’s also how you get a compelling conflict, incidentally. Which is another thing this is lacking.
The second big issue is just that the situations themselves aren’t explored very deeply. In the first, we have the time travelling camera. Then we have Mayumi leap to two different time periods for a couple minutes each and then it all gets resolved neatly. That’s not a spoiler, by the way, we’re told pretty much the instant she leaps that it’s all going to turn out fine. Because her non-reaction wasn’t enough of a tension-drainer. We needed to be outright told how things were going to go too. In the second, most of the story revolves around our PI reading an expository note. I wish I was kidding but that is actually what’s in store for us.
About the most positive I can be is to say that the scenarios are strange enough to somewhat keep your attention and there’s nothing in them that’s really bad. It’s more that you never get any kind of strong pay off and the coverage for them remains pretty shallow and lacking in any real tension, conflict or stakes. Which isn’t cricket for this type of series.
You can probably guess what I’m basically going to say already since I kind of covered this when talking about the story issues. The problem with the characters in this comes down to one simple thing, they aren’t believable. Their reactions are just too stoic given the circumstances and it makes them tremendously boring. Kit’s interesting to see characters rage, rage against the winds of fate. It’s interesting to see characters who freak out a little bit when they find themselves in a situation that would challenge anyone’s perception of reality. Even if the character is able to compose themselves pretty quickly we still need something of a reaction. Because doing it this way is just dull.
The artwork is a bit dated. It’s pretty obvious what era it comes from. But it still holds up pretty well. The movements flow nicely and there’s a clear effort put into making the backgrounds and characters look good. The only real issue I have with it is that there’s a decided lack of strange imagery. Our first tale deals with time travel and the transition we get is a little girl on a swing. The only otherworldly sight we get is the plane turning into a carp. That’s the only interesting sight we get. Which is kind of a load of stale wank.
The problem with the acting ties into the big issue with the characters. No one involved ever sounds invested. The closest we get is some lines from Hyoudou Mako. I’m guessing she had to redo them a few times because she was being too expressive and they finally decided that they were bland enough since her character looks unconcerned during them. The music isn’t bad but it is pretty dull and forgettable. Which, I suppose, does suit the series well.
There isn’t any. Which, I’m sure, is completely unrelated to the series not having interesting character dynamics in the slightest.
Twilight Q is an OVA that really wants to be a compelling sci-fi anthology and probably tried to model itself after the Twilight Zone. The trouble it has is that the team behind it doesn’t seem to understand what made that series interesting. They seem to think that all you need is a bizarre situation. You don’t need interesting characters, a strong conflict, tension, stakes or even odd visuals. They thought that they could just throw any bland character into a strange situation and the situation itself would carry the entire thing. And that doesn’t work. I can’t call it a bad OVA since it’s more boring than anything, but I will say it’s weak. It is a sub-par work and I can’t recommend it for your anthology needs when there are much better series out there. The Final rating is going to stand at a 4/10. Next week I’m looking at Dennou Sentai Voogie’s Angel. I’ve heard things, none of them positive. So, we’ll see how that turns out.